2007 Draft Review
Here are the Jays' draftees in the first 5 rounds of the MLB draft, held last week
Round 1, pick 16: Kevin Ahrens, SS/3B
6-2, 180 lbs, throws - right, bats - switch
DOB: 4/26/88 - Memorial HS (Houston, TX)
Ahrens is a switch hitter with power and a good swing from both sides of the plate. Although Ahrens was a SS in high school, there's no doubt in anyone's mind that he will have to switch to the hot corner eventually, as he does not possess the range of a MLB SS. It does look as though he can stick at the hot corner, though, as he has a good arm and good hands. The consensus on this pick seems to be that it is a bit of a reach, although Ahrens has a good bat.
Round 1, pick 21: JP Arencibia, C
6-1, 195 lbs, throws - right, bats - right
DOB: 1/5/86 - Univ. of Tennessee
Our GM's namesake is a power-hitting backstop, but he pulled a muscle in his back this year and did not put up expected numbers, declining in slugging and striking out in over 16% of his at-bats after 2 full years of 12% K rates. Arebencia has a bit of a long, uppercut swing. There seems to be some question as to whether he will stick behind the plate, but I think he can, as his problems are related to footwork -- which can be worked on -- not arm strength or athleticism. Hopefully the Jays have done their due dilligence, but a college catcher who is already dealing with nagging back injuries raises a huge read flag for me. Not only that, but it is hard to get excited about MLB's pre-draft statement that "Arebencia is no longer in the first-round picture, but figures to go sometime during the first few rounds."
Sandwich Round, pick 38: Brett Cecil, LHP
6-2, 225 lbs
DOB: 7/2/86 - University of Maryland
Cecil was primarily a reliever in college, but a stint in the rotation late in the season has convinced many (though not all) that his future is as a starter. Cecil gets his 4-seamer up to 94, although he sits around 91. His slider is a plus pitch with good bite, and his changeup has promise as a 3rd pitch, particularly against righties. He throws other pitches, but it's unclear whether they are MLB pitches. Last season, he averaged 9.0 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9, solid if unspectacular. The Jays love lefty college pitchers, and Cecil fits their MO.
Sandwich Round, pick 45: Justin Jackson, SS
6-2, 175 lbs, throws - right; bats - right
DOB: 12/11/88 - TC Robertson HS
Jackson is raw, but some believe he's got good upside. He's got a bit of a holey swing, but has good strike-zone judgement and shows some feel for hitting. Some, but not all, scouts believe he will eventually develop above-average power, while others think he will never hit enough to be an MLB everyday shortstop. Few doubt his fielding ability, though. There are some videos out there that show Jackson's fielding, and as a former HS SS myself, he is one of the best I've ever seen. His flash might turn some off, but if you look behind the slickness, he's good fundamentally, with a very quick first step and great hands. I love this pick, but that doesn't mean it will work out.
Sandwich Round, pick 56: Trystan Magnuson, RHP
6-7, 210 lbs
DOB: 6/6/85 - Univ. of Louisville
Trystan Magnuson sounds like a character in Revenge of the Sith, but the Jays are hoping he's their setup man of the future. Magnuson has a low-90s fastball and a slider that needs some work. Magnuson showed very good control this season, walking only 1.5/9 innings and surrendering only .3 HR/9 (showing he can keep the slider down). I can't say I'm overwhelmed by this pick, however. Seems like the Jays have lots of these.
Round 2, pick 85: John Tolisano, SS/2B/CF
5-11, 180 lbs; throws - right; hits - switch
DOB: 10/7/88 - Estero HS (Fla)
Tolisano was bright as a freshman but faded last season and entered the draft as a bit of an enigma. He shows a pretty good approach from both sides of the plate, although some thing he's better from the left side. Scouts are really divided on Tolisano, with some saying he will hit enough to play the outfield, and another saying his only chance to make MLB is if he switches to catcher. Tolisano played SS in HS, but doesn't figure to stick there - he will be tried first at 2nd. It was interesting to see JP select two toolsy HS middle-infielders this season.
Round 2, pick 88: Eric Eiland, CF
6-2, 195 lbs; throws - left; hits - left
DOB: 9/16/88 - Lamar HS (TX)
Another Texan, Eiland is a raw but very athletic CF who had hamstring problems this season. The hammy issues took away his speed as a weapon and limited his swing, and he may end up at Texas A & M (where he has committed and also has interest in playing football) rather than the Jays. Eiland has the speed to play center field, but his arm is weak and is better suited for left. Certainly an atypical Jays pick.
Round 3, pick 115: Alan Farina, RHP
5-11, 195 lbs
DOB: 8/9/86 - Clemson Univ.
Farina has a good 4-seam fastball in the low 90s, as well as a good biting slider. Farina is interesting because he served as a middle reliever in college, but some scouts think he could end up a starter. That alone makes him an interesting pick, and all he really needs is another pitch or two. He struck out 11.6/9 IP last season, but walked 4.2/9, a figure upon which he will have to improve.
Round 4, pick 145: Brad Mills, LHP
6-0, 185 lbs
DOB: 3/5/85 - Univ. of Arizona
Mills' fastball sat between 87-90 MPH last season. Mills has a semester remaining in college and a balky back that required cortisone injections last season, clouding his draft status. His control of the fastball is a bit shaky, but 3 pitches (he also throws a quality curve and a change) means he has a chance at starting. If not, a Scott-Downs type role is a possibility.
Round 5, pick 175: Marc Rzepczynski, LHP
6-3, 205 lbs
DOB: 8/29/85 - UC Riverside
Rzepczynski (who really needs a nickname) suffered from minor elbow problems last season, but bounced back to have a good season. Rzepczynski did not yield a HR and struck out 10.5/9 IP to only 3.1 BB/9. His heater sits in the low 90s and also throws a slider, a power curve, and a changeup. If he can get the control down, the 4 pitches suggest mid/back rotation starter, but that may not happen, particularly if his elbow issues continue.
Overall, it is hard not to be excited about the infusion of talent into the Jays' minor-league system. At the same time, it is hard not to question individual picks. Overall, I really like what JP did in this draft. He mixed in guys close to the show with high-ceiling toolsy players, and got a good mix of overall talent and depth at positions the Jays will need. Of course you would love to see JP gamble on a ace-ceiling signability guy like Rick Porcello (who fell to Detroit at the very end of the 1st round), but realistically, JP was never going to do that.
Update (since I was called out on it already) - Yes, the title of the post derives from a song by the band Stars. However, I am man enough to admit that I love Stars, and you know what? As loyal Canadians, y'all should too.